Sophie Claudet: Germany is not the only country in Europe to promote flexibility on its labour market. Where else is it happening in Europe?
Monika Queisser: There have been several countries that have indeed been reforming their labour markets towards more flexibility. One of those countries, for example, is Italy, which passed the Jobs Act, that tried to make it easier for the so-called outsiders to enter the labour market. Currently also in France, flexibility in the labour market is under discussion and reforms are underway. Many of these countries are trying to make it easier and more fluid for people who’ve been outside of the labour market for a long time to enter, and incite employers to hire more easily.
Sophie Claudet: But we’ve seen that often at time this also translates into creating a new class of working poor…
Monika Queisser: There is indeed a risk that the number of working poor will increase depending on how policies are designed. And we have seen that in Germany, for example, the “mini-jobs” and flexibility in the labour market have led to a situation where there are very many working poor, indeed the second largest low wage sector after the United States in the OECD countries. Governments need to pay attention by regulating the quality of the jobs and by making sure that people are well paid, that there are adequate minimum wages, for example – and Germany just introduced a minimum wage not a long time ago – to precisely address the issue of temporary and precarious work.